Homeless Veterans: A United States Black Eye
They were Soldiers and Sailors, Marines and Airmen, National Guard and Coast Gurad, heroes all, where can we find them? Look in a cold dark alley
under some card board boxes.
It is said that a veteran is someone who wrote the United States Government a check in an amount up to and including his or her very life. They stood
up for the very principles that made this country great. They served with distinction, honor and valor. So why have so many found themselves
I was walking with some guys I worked with one bright and sunny day when we passed a group of homeless. No signs or other paraphernalia to indicate
they were homeless, other than their attire and overall look of having slept outdoors for an extended period of time. A few had some unit patches on
and were obviously veterans. I walked over and spoke to some of them and gave them some money. Upon returning to my workmates, one asked me why I did
that. I said that they needed it, only to be met with several outbursts of things like, “They are just all drunks”, “They are only homeless
because they want to be”, etc. I was quite simply amazed at the ignorance of such statements until I got home and started doing some research. I
found that this is a prevailing sentiment among the more fortunate and those that have never served. I also discovered the vast numbers of homeless
that have honorably served this country. To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. So I asked myself why.
Fear of Society?
Lack of Training or Job Specific Abilities?
Any or all of the above?
I suffer from PTSD and through the years and my own actions; it has manifested itself into Clinical Depression. I say this to set a standard we can
work from as far as being homeless goes. I have been homeless; actually living in my car for a period of time. I have also experienced good fortune
and success. I now find myself at the back end of that success, unemployed and wondering where my future will go from here. To say I understand
homeless veterans is to simplify their plight and does not begin to do justice to what it is they are or have experienced. Let us just say I am one
Looking at the problem it is easy to wonder how the very government that routinely spends billions of dollars of tax payer money on a warship or
airplane, can stand by and not take an active role in fixing this nationwide disgrace. It is sadly far more complicated than that.
The government does have programs for veterans. Most are free and fairly extensive. Medical care is provided as well at a basic level through VA
Hospitals and Clinics. Educational programs, career guidance and even technical training can be found. All of this only makes our question, why, more
PTSD is a horrible and potentially debilitating mental ailment. It can make you wonder if what you perceive around you is reality or a waking dream.
It has been my experience that the effects of PTSD are directly related to the extent of trauma the individual experienced at the time. PTSD does not
get better over time; in fact it will get worse if not treated. As I stated above, it will eventually develop into some other form of depression and
the results can be life threatening. Yet much of society still considers it to be a personal failing or weakness on the part of the individual. I am
also not intending on stating that every homeless veteran has PTSD. While I believe the vast majority do, it is simply my hypothesis.
One of the most difficult aspects of homelessness, and PTSD, is the stigma society has placed on anyone that steps up and admits to needing help.
(Reference Above) Even in the enlightened society we proudly claim to be living in, weakness of any kind is often treated no differently than the
African Savanna. As Darwin so accurately pointed out, it is and still remains a land of “Survival of the Fittest”. Also at play here is man’s
propensity to easily forget the good and always remember the bad about any one individual. I have heard it a thousand times and it is very true that
you can do a million good deeds and all be washed away with one bad. No matter how much these men and women may have been heroes, now they are looked
down on due to their circumstance. Human Nature.
I have asked myself again and again how our elected representatives cannot be actively preparing legislation to help our vets as each day they walk by
the homeless on their way to and from their jobs in Washington DC. Yet they remain strangely quiet about this national ailment.
I do not have the answers; no just more and more questions. I wish that I did have the answer to this national disgrace. I am a Conservative and I
believe that charity begins at home, so is it our local communities that are falling short here? Churches and Conservative Organizations are still far
and above the largest contributors to charities, yet it seems that nothing is being done, or even planned on being done for our homeless vets. There
are organizations of course, but not enough and definitely not enough funding. While charity may start at home, these men and women wrote that life
check to our GOVERNMENT; should not in this instance, the same government step up?
Create a Government Office?
As I previously stated, I do not have the answer, only more questions. I do know that more exposure can only be a good thing. Maybe if we shove it in
enough people’s faces, they will begin to stop turning away.
Department of Veterans Affairs